Great Gardeners: Wisdom & Ideas from the Best of the Best


As we plan our gardens this year, we’re drawing inspiration from the men and women whose ideas have shaped gardening history. Be the best gardener you can be by learning from history’s great gardeners, and incorporating their time-tested wisdom into your own garden!

We’ll feature 25 gardeners throughout the month of March; their story, their accomplishments and easy ways to follow in their footsteps! Stay tuned for more entries!


11. Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903)

“Dame Nature is a gentlewoman…No guide’s fee will obtain you her favor, no abrupt demand; hardly will she bear questioning, or direct, curious gazing at her beauty.” – Frederick Law Olmsted



Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903) was an American landscape architect, journalist and social critic. His most famous works include Boston’s “Emerald Necklace,” Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, and New York City’s Central Park, which he created along with designer Calvert Vaux. He also pioneered the creation of Niagara Falls State Park, the oldest state park in the United States.

In designing urban parks, Olmsted strived to create “picturesque” and “pastoral” landscapes. He deliberately arranged the scenery in his parks to avoid creating borders and definition and instead focused on helping the park visitors feel the full space. He designed his parks to produce an subconsciously relaxing effect.

Fun Fact

In 1837, right when Olmsted was about to begin college, he suffered sumac poisoning that was so severe it damaged his eyesight enough to prevent him from ever going to university.  

Garden Like Olmstead

Garden with Olmsted’s influences by striving to create a sense of space in your garden that subconsciously invites the mind to relax and unwind.

Explore more of Olmsted’s work here:

10. Margery Fish (1892–1969)

Margery Fish (1892–1969) English gardener and writer; popularized a style reminiscent of traditional cottage gardens; gardened at East Lambrook Manor in Somerset; author of We Made a Garden (1956).

9. Louise Beebe Wilder (1878–1938)

Louise Beebe Wilder (1878–1938) American gardener and author; the best early 20th-century American garden writer; gardened in Bronxville and Pomona, New York; books include Colour in My Garden (1918), The Fragrant Path(1932), and Adventures with Hardy Bulbs (1936).

Louise Beebe Wilder Interview – Horticulture, Feb. 1935

8. Russell Page (1906–85)

Russell Page (1906–85) English garden designer; known for his meticulously crafted, often formal gardens, created mostly for wealthy private clients; author of the classic The Education of A Gardener (1962).

7. Beatrix Farrand (1872–1959)

Beatrix Farrand (1872–1959) American landscape architect; a founding member of the American Society of Landscape Architects; projects included Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., and the Yale and Princeton University campuses; published the Reef Point Bulletins from her home garden in Bar Harbor, Maine.

6. André Le Nôtre (1613 – 1700)

Andre Le Notre (1613–1700) French landscape architect; designer of the grounds at Vaux-le-Vicomte and Versailles; associated with highly formal chateau gardens carried out on a grand scale.

5. Gertrude Jekyll (1843–1932)

Gertrude Jekyll (1843–1932) English garden designer and author; high priestess of the Edwardian herbaceous border; frequent collaborator with the architect Edwin Lutyens and with William Robinson (q.v.); gardened at Munstead Wood in Surrey; books include Wood and Garden (1899) and Colour in the Flower Garden (1908); pronounced JEE-kul.

4. Lancelot “Capability” Brown (1715–83)

Lancelot “Capability” Brown (1715–83) English landscape gardener; one of the most influential promoters of the pastoral English landscape movement; responsible for at least 170 estate gardens, including the grounds at Stowe in Buckinghamshire.

3. Roberto Burle Marx (1909–94)

Roberto Burle Marx (1909–94) Brazilian landscape and garden designer known for his bold, abstract patterns and creative use of native flora; also an ardent conservationist.

2. Karl Foerster (1874–1970)

Karl Foerster (1874–1970) German nurseryman, plant breeder, and author; advocated a “natural” style of planting incorporating grasses and ferns along with flowering perennials; known especially for his hybrid delphiniums.

1. Liberty Hyde Bailey (1858–1954)

Liberty Hyde Bailey (1858–1954) American botanist, horticulturist, and educator; spent much of his working life at Cornell University; author of more than 60 books, including the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture and Hortus Third.

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